About Providenciales

Providenciales is an island in the Turks and Caicos Islands with an area of approx. 38 square miles and a population of approx. 16,000 people. "Provo" as it is locally known is the largest island in terms of population and the third largest in terms of area in the Turks & Caicos islands and Provo was ranked as the best beach destination in the world in 2011 by Trip Advisor.

Situated halfway between Florida and the Virgins, Provo provides a convenient resting place en route to or from the Eastern Caribbean, and can now be considered as a cruising distination in their own right with several cruiser friendly marinas, good anchorages and are well charted with cruising routes, landmarks and hazards clearly marked. The best charts for the Turks and Caicos are the Wavy Line charts available from Blue Water Books, Wavey Line Publishing and others.

As recently as 1964, Provo, did not have a single wheeled vehicle. However, following in the footsteps of Club Med, the island's first large hotel and casino complex opened in 1984 and touched off a development boom. Provo is now the most tourist-oriented and developed of the Turks and Caicos Islands, boasting many resort hotels and a championship standard 18-hole golf course. The island has recently become popular with retirees from around the world, kindling a boom of residential development. Grace Bay has seen many luxury condos built on its shores, however the settlements of Turks Islanders still provide a local flair to the island.

The resorts on Providenciales are primarily centered on 5 miles (8.0 km) long Grace Bay. Apart from the beaches, the island's charm lies in its rugged hills and ridges, which are carpeted with prickly pear cactus and scrub. The trump card, however, remains the world class diving: miles and miles of coral reefs are close to shore and the island is close to a common migration route for the Humpback whale. Providenciales is surrounded by uninhabited cays that are easily reached by chartered boat or excursion.

Before Provo became a popular tourist destination, there were three small centers of population: Blue Hills, The Bight (on Grace Bay) and Five Cays. Now many houses have been built, predominantly in the east and south, with larger communities at Leeward, Long Bay and Chalk Sound, as well as expansion of the original three settlements. There are also pockets of makeshift shacks interspersed among the more upscale residences.

Grace Bay has grown to be a major tourist destination with many hotels and condominiums built on the beach front.

The communities of Downtown and Kew Town are located near the airport. The major road, the Highway, runs east—west from Downtown to Leeward. Most of the island's services are near the Highway, including upscale shopping malls which are also found in the commercial developments of Grace Bay, in support of the tourism market.

Opportunities for sightseeing and hiking include the remnants of Caribbean pirates at Osprey Rock and Sapodilla Hill, and the ruins of Cheshire Hall, a 1790s plantation house constructed by British loyalists, are also notable.

The western half of Providenciales is mostly barren wilderness, home to the island's best natural attraction, Chalk Sound National Park. The park is a 3 miles (4.8 km) long bay southwest of Downtown. The color of the water is a uniform turquoise and studded with countless mushroom-like tiny islets. Also on the western part of the island is Northwest Point Marine National Park, which extends to nearby reefs and several saline lakes that attract breeding and migrant waterfowl.

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